Lopez turns in best start for KC in sweep of O's

Righty allows one run with career highs in K's (8) and innings (7)

September 2nd, 2018

KANSAS CITY -- This is the that the Royals wanted to see.

Lopez, the rookie right-hander acquired from Milwaukee in the Mike Moustakas trade, turned in his finest outing of the season, and his longest, going seven innings and giving up just one run in the Royals' 9-1 win over the Orioles on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals swept the Orioles and have won a season-high five straight, and seven of eight.

Lopez got his second Major League win -- his first coming in 2015 at San Diego. Lopez gave up five hits and walked no one. Using a two-seam fastball with exceptional lateral movement, Lopez struck out a career-high eight batters, five of them looking.

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"Command was good," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But for me, he really utilized his fastball, pitched off his fastball, established his fastball. And he pitched off it with his slider, changeup and curveball. But the key was establishing his fastball first. He was filling up the zone and staying on the attack. Outstanding start for him."

"When I pound the zone with my two-seamer in to both [sides], it's always good for me," Lopez added. "When I have my fastball, you can see [how] different I am."

Lopez's lone mistake was a first-pitch two-seamer that drifted back to the middle of the plate, which former Brewers teammate blasted the opposite way for his 11th home run in the first inning.

"Villar is a good player," Lopez said. "If you miss something, [he's] gonna get you."

But that's all the Orioles could muster against Lopez, who struck out the side in the second, and escaped a two-out, first-and-third jam in the fourth by running a two-seamer in on the hands of , who flied out to right.

"A good young pitcher," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Lopez. "He's impressive."

The Royals broke a 1-1 tie in the third inning with a lot of help from the Orioles' defense. Starting pitcher committed errors on two separate pickoff plays, which allowed a runner to score, and Villar also made a throwing error to allow another run to score. doubled in a run during the inning.

Whit Merrifield drove in the fifth run with an RBI single in the fourth and also swiped his 30th bag of the season.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED

Royals rookie catcher made his Major League debut. He became the first Royal to make the jump from Class A to the big leagues in the same season since Donnie Moore in 2004.

Viloria appeared in total sync with Lopez behind the plate. And he got his first big league hit in the eighth, a two-run double off the wall in right. It also was his first career bat flip.

"It's just a natural thing," Viloria said through interpreter Ian Kraft. "I've been doing it since I was in Little League. It's something I do when I get excited."

Yost, though, didn't seem too crazy about it.

"We talked about that," Yost said. "He'll curtail that a little bit."

Lopez, though, was impressed with Viloria's receiving skills.

"That kid is something special," Lopez said. "The communication and connection we had and the plan we had, it was right on it. You can see that the first three innings. That was awesome. He just kept to the plan. He's got something special going."

SPECIAL HONOR

Before the game, the Royals honored their vice president of communications and broadcasting, Mike Swanson, who is in his 40th season in Major League baseball. Swanson threw out the first pitch to Yost.

"It was a well-deserved honor," Yost said. "I know he's been at this for 40 years, but for me, he's been a pleasure to work with. He's helped me more than I can even express in a lot of different ways. Love him and respect him."

HE SAID IT

"After the sixth inning, [Viloria] came in and I told him, 'OK, get [Lopez] through one more inning. Just work him and get him through one more inning. You're doing great.' So, we get through the seventh inning and he comes in and we fist bump. And after we get done with our seventh, he's just sitting on the bench. After everyone goes out, he's still just sitting on the bench. I look at him and I say, 'What are you doing?' And he says, 'Well, you told me I was only playing one more inning.' He'll figure out the English language eventually." -- Yost, on communicating with Viloria

UP NEXT

Right-hander Jakob Junis (7-12, 4.53 ERA) will take the mound as the Royals open a three-game set at Progressive Field on Monday at 3:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander (4-4, 4.94) will pitch for the Indians. Junis is coming off the first complete game of his career against the Tigers on Tuesday -- he gave up two runs and six hits, walked no one and struck out seven in a 6-2 win.